The Director of Public Health will provide a verbal update regarding latest trends/numbers/contact tracing/information on lateral flow tests.
NHS partners will provide a verbal update regarding the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
A further update will be provided on the progress of the flu vaccination programme.
The Chair opened the item and asked for specific developments on priority areas of protection rates and tiers, lateral flow, and progress with the vaccination programme.
The Director of Public Health provided headline key messages. In terms of infection rates, the city had been in the highest region for some time, however rates had recently fallen, and the current rate was 255 per 100,000. It was noted that in context, some weeks ago the rate was 438. In broader context Leicester currently stood at around the 58th highest area, due to the increase in rates in the south and east coast. It was confirmed that there would be further updates in due course.
As figures were now plateauing since the first spike it was reported that currently at 8% of testes were positive, showing a fall. It was clarified that although this was initially significant regionally, the rate was below that in London but higher than the average for both the East and West Midlands.
In respect of the lateral flow and devices it was noted that the door to door testing activity was continuing, utilising tests that were well known with high specificity and lateral flow. It was reported that some press reports stating that results would be received within an hour had caused concern and had been treated with caution. It was clarified that from the public health viewpoint, the tests were not seen as reliable as PCR tests, so could only be used to give a good indication, with encouragement for a repeat test. Details of the testing centre at Fosse were confirmed.
In relation to vaccinations, it had been emphasised that it was the responsibility of the NHS and the Council only offered its support to the track and trace and contact tracing initiatives. The system therefore had limitations and the current vaccine was fragile due to the constraints of its storage and transportation. It was noted that a further AstraZeneca option was being developed and details would be known soon.
The Chair thanked the Director for the update and then opened the debate to questions.
Councillor Sangster asked how many of the city’s population had been tested and what was considered a low rate of infection.
In response it was estimated that over 130,000 people had been tested and the exact figures would be supplied separately. It was noted that the original lockdown had been called after a recording of 135 per 100,000, therefore a figure below that could be considered as low. At present the national figure was 184 per 100,000 taken as an average and the city was 255. It was confirmed that Government meetings were ongoing to look at future tiers and announcements would be made shortly.
Councillor Sangster also commented that there was some reluctance in the health service for staff to take the current vaccine. She asked what as a Council we could do in response and how could support the broader community.
The Director advised that some misinformation has been shared and emphasised that reliable information was necessary for the public to make choices. In terms of the difficult to reach areas it was reported that an approach arising from the testing initiatives to provide a point of clear information would be continued, as was used for other areas of NHS support.
That the update position be noted, with a request for further reports in due course.